Homeschooling for Beginners: Top 10 Questions
10 Questions Answered about Homeschool
- How much does it cost?
- How do I work and homeschool my kids?
- Is it legal to make up my own curriculum?
- Does it have to be accredited?
- Will my kids perform better or worse than traditionally educated kids?
- What if my kids have special needs?
- What are the benefits of homeschooling?
- Is all homeschooling religiously based? Secular vs Religious?
- Testing – Can I be homeschooled and still go to Harvard?
- What about sports, drama, music?
Bonus Question – “Is it selfish to take your kids out of school?”
1. How much does it cost
You can get free curriculum packages from organizations like K-12 or spend thousands of dollars on private, online or personally created programs. That is for the individual family to decide. Whatever your personal preference is there are quality programs run online by charter schools and state run programs that are tuition free. Right now in Arizona we have, Arizona State University’s digital prep.
This is a no fee, online school that has AP (advanced placement classes) as well as opportunities to complete basic college courses at an extremely reduced rate, giving your student the ability to finish at least the first year of college before they ever step foot on campus, saving the family thousands of dollars! You will want to check your local area for colleges that have done similar things in your area.
2. How do I work and homeschool my kids?
Some families have one parent that does not go out of the home for work and they are able to homeschool without thinking twice. While others either need to leave the house or work in a quiet office at home. This topic has been the basis for millions of hilarious TikToks!
The question still remains, how do I homeschool and work?
If you are thinking of homeschooling it is very important to think about who is shepherding the kids through the curriculum. Do you have independent workers or do you have children that are younger or even need more 1:1 help?
Create a village.
In our last neighborhood, we had three families that decided to homeschool together. The moms all had degrees in Math, Science and Biology. So they would spearhead each subject (giving the other two moms the “day off” (they had remote jobs that used this time) while they took on the responsibilities of school for the day, creating labs, field trips, testing etc. This had the added benefit of social interaction.
If you are going to be homeschooling on the road, time chunking will be your best friend. In other words, setting aside three hours (or so) where the majority of the work is completed and supervised. When you first start to homeschool it is fascinating to see just how fast basic work is completed when you do not have things like transferring of classrooms, morning announcements, recess, assemblies, etc. You have much more time for learning in atypical ways that travel provides in spades!
3. Is it legal to make my own curriculum
Homeschooling comes in many forms. Before you make a curriculum or choose a plan it is imperative that you check with your state or municipality to understand what is required of you. While homeschool is legal there are some states that put heavy regulations on the parents to direct their behaviors and keep the students on track. Home School Legal Defense is a fantastic place to start to see what the regulations are for your state.
4. Does it have to be accredited
The simple answer is, no. In addition, if you find a curriculum that is accredited it does not always guarantee that it is a quality program. What most people are really looking for when they request accreditation is if the curriculum is well developed and will prepare their student for the next step in their education. In other words, will your curriculum translate, with approval, to a private high school or desired college, or will your desired curriculum allow for seamless reentry to your student’s previous school if you take a year off to travel with plans to come back.
Having your student figure out what they want to do beyond middle school and high school is the best way to create a plan. For example, does your student want to go into a military academy or competitive college? Go to the site of these schools and see what is required. Then have a meeting with these schools to go over their expectations. The admission offices are very helpful and usually have a specialized office or person that handles homeschooling families. The key here is the earlier the better. You need to know as soon as possible so you have the time to deliver on the requirements.
5. Will my kids perform better or worse than traditionally educated kids
The most recent report from the U.S. Department of Education stated that homeschoolers are, on average, one year ahead of their schooled peers on the elementary school level.
What is most important, are the things books can’t teach us. This is where homeschool can be amazing or challenging. Creating opportunities where kids can see themselves stack up to their peers helps in growth, identity formation and practice in working out solution-based thinking.
Here is an article about 5 ways that Homeschooling might be the best way to teach in the 21st century.
6. What if my kids have special needs
The spectrum of special needs is vast and one child’s needs will not look like another. That is why working with your school district, or those in charge of delivering services will be imperative in creating a well developed plan from kids that learn differently to disabilities that require daily consideration, while being homeschooled.
The key to remember: Services follow paperwork.
Every state has a Parent Training and Information Center that can help parents understand what services are available to them. There are two things to remember in this pursuit. First: there many people in this career path that want to help and are amazing. Second: sometimes you will have to search for them because you are your child’s advocate. If you are not getting the answers you need, keep searching. When you find them be sure to help other families along the way!
7. What are the benefits of homeschooling
There are many benefits to homeschooling but one of the greatest is being able to tailor your child’s education. Knowing that we do not all develop at the same rate or have our strengths in the same areas we can adjust and develop missing pieces and accelerate in others is the greatest strength of homeschool.
Oh and… did we mention the flexibility to travel and center our lives around what we want to do instead of abiding by a schedule that was created for us. 🙂
Here is an insightful article on using the great outdoors as your classroom.
8. Is all homeschooling religiously based? Secular vs Religious
No. Homeschooling is all about you creating your own plan in accordance to your state’s regulations. There are many choices when creating a curriculum. That can include religious-based materials or secular materials.
9. Testing/Will my kids get into college
There are many questions about testing and homeschooling. State standard testing vs. PSAT, SAT ACT are the most common tests that are of concern to potential homeschoolers. State standard testing will be dependent on the curriculum you choose. When we first set out to go full time RVing I signed up our family to use the K-12 program. They had the full spectrum of services that a traditional school would have but they were also held to the same standards. That meant they required their students to return in the spring for testing. This was okay for the first year of our travels but became inconvenient and was a motivator for us to change our program in the following years.
PSAT, SAT and ACT Testing can be done around the country and does not need to be at your local school. Our kids were tested for the ISEE, PSAT and SAT all while we were traveling. You will need to go to the correct website to find the testing dates and have your school code ready for the enrollment process. Pay the fees and it’s as easy as that!
10. What about sports, drama, music
There is a great site called Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling. They have a break down of states that allow participation from homeschooled kids in Public School Sports and activities. If it is available in your state, it will come down to proving that your student is completing their academic tasks (consistent to the standard for the public schooler) There other requirements, depending on the state, that ask you to prove that they are not overtraining to protect the opposing teams that you are not training hulks on the side by “homeschooling” them but really just training them like pro athletes to tip the scales.